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Two Years on, COVID-19 Makes Stress, Uncertainty Americans’ New Normal

Americans are feeling “burned out” some two years after the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with anxiety and inconvenience now commonplace, according to a CNN article. 

What’s going on: “In more than two dozen interviews in Kentucky, Texas and California, many who spoke to CNN described frustration, exhaustion and anxiety as they try to accept uncertainty as their new normal. In Washington, D.C., White House officials are trying to strike a hopeful tone, with COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients arguing last week the U.S. is continuing to ‘move toward a time when COVID won’t disrupt our daily lives.’ But that future is still difficult for many to envision.”

“The Great Resignation”: Many have voluntarily left employment since the pandemic’s start, with older workers retiring early and younger ones looking for higher wages.

  • “Omicron has become another factor in the complicated reality of the pandemic-era labor force. During the period from December 29 to January 10, a stunning 11.9 million people said they could not work because they either were sick from COVID, caring for someone with coronavirus symptoms or because they were concerned about getting or spreading the virus, according to the Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey.”

Vaccination clears paths: Those who choose to remain unvaccinated, whether for religious or other reasons, are finding employment difficult to come by, despite the workforce shortage. 

  • But for parents of children under age 5, who are not yet eligible for vaccination, “life often feels like a recurring battle to stay vigilant and keep their kids safe.” 

Spotty schooling: Adding to Americans’ stress levels is children’s still-disrupted schooling. 

  • “Scattered districts across the country have returned to remote learning for stints ranging from a day to weeks, because of staff shortages or high case numbers, including some public schools in Kentucky, Texas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Michigan and Maryland. Flint Community Schools in Michigan recently announced they would extend their virtual learning period indefinitely, the worst-nightmare scenario for parents who cannot stay home.”
  • And frequent outbreaks in individual schools or classrooms upend parental work schedules, as exposed children and teachers must isolate and get tested for the virus. The frequent need for child care has led to the decision by some parents to leave their jobs entirely.
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